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Archive for July, 2014

This Week in Music History: July 28 to August 3

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch

THE CREW-CUTS’ SMASH HIT

The Crew-Cuts were rock-and-roll pioneers. However, the group’s beginnings weren’t very rock and roll at all: the band was formed at a choir school. The four vocalists who made up the group all attended St. Michael’s Choir School in downtown Toronto (the same Catholic music school that spawned fellow Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees The Four Lads), and after they graduated, they all worked as bureaucrats for the government of Ontario. They mostly played small clubs around Niagara Falls, and their first single didn’t do much at all.

But it was while they were at a gig in the frigid snows of Sudbury that they finally caught their big break. They were invited to play on a radio station in Cleveland, driving hundreds of kilometres through -40° weather to get there. But it was worth it. The radio DJ got them an audition with Mercury Records and they impressed the label enough to land a recording contract.

A year later, they released the smash hit that would make them famous. By then, “Sh-Boom” was already a well-known song: the original version by The Chords had climbed into the Top 10 on the Billboard charts just a few months earlier. In fact, it was the very first time an R&B single had crossed over onto the pop charts and climbed that high. But these were the days when covers were commonplace and when record companies were in the habit of taking songs released by black artists and having them re-recorded by white artists. When The Crew-Cuts released their own version of “Sh-Boom” it was an even bigger hit than the original. During this week in 1954, it was sitting at the very top of the Billboard pop chart and it would stay there for seven straight weeks.

The Crew-Cuts were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1984.

“SH-BOOM” BY THE CREW-CUTS

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CELEBRATING ANNE MURRAY’S SMALL-TOWN ROOTS

Today, Anne Murray is an international superstar who plays to sold-out crowds in some of the biggest cities in the world. But the story of her incredibly successful career started in the small coal-mining town of Springhill, Nova Scotia. It was there that the Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee was born. It was there that she first learned to love music and to play the piano. And it was there that she caught a bus every Saturday morning to travel an hour away to the tiny village of Tatamagouche to take singing lessons.

Now, more than half a century later, Springhill still celebrates the early beginnings of one of the world’s most popular singers. It was during this week in 1989 that the Anne Murray Centre first opened its doors and it’s still going strong 25 years later. The not-for-profit organization tells the story of the artist’s career and how it all started in that small Nova Scotian community, while attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to Anne Murray’s hometown.

“SNOW BIRD” BY ANNE MURRAY

This Week in Music History: July 21 to 27

Posted on: July 22nd, 2014 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch

THE VERY BEGINNING OF NEIL YOUNG’S RECORDING CAREER

In 1963, Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Neil Young was only 17 years old. He had been born in Toronto, spent some time in the sleepy Ontario town of Omemee and went to high school in the suburb of Pickering. But when his parents broke up, he moved with his mother to Winnipeg, and that’s where his passion for music really took off.

These were the early years of the 1960s: the golden age of rock ’n’ roll. So the young Young grew up listening to jukebox legends such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. It wasn’t long before he started playing music himself. As a teenager in Winnipeg, Young joined a few different bands. The one we remember best was called The Squires.

That’s because The Squires was the very first band that Neil Young ever recorded with. It was during this week in the summer of 1963 that Young and his bandmates walked into the studio of a local Winnipeg radio station, CKRC. That day, they recorded two songs – “The Sultan” and “Aurora” – with one of the station’s DJs serving as the producer. V Records released the tunes as a single, with only 300 copies pressed. Today, only 10 are thought to have survived. It’s one of the rarest 45s in the world and an important piece of history, because that was the day that Neil Young’s recording career officially began.

“THE SULTAN” BY THE SQUIRES

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ROGER WATERS AND HALL OF FAMERS CELEBRATE THE FALL OF THE WALL

He said he would never perform “The Wall” again. This was in the early 1980s. Roger Waters was done with Pink Floyd, calling the band “a spent force.” It seemed safe to say that the elaborate theatrical live version of the group’s classic anti-fascist album – which was co-produced by Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Bob Ezrin – was a thing of the past. Unless, he added with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, the Berlin Wall came down. Then he’d have to. At the time, the fall of the wall seemed like something that might never happen; the Soviet Union was still very much a superpower. But then, of course, it did.

Just a few months later, Waters arrived in Berlin. He picked a spot that had been part of the no man’s land between the two sections of the city and there, during this week in 1990, he put together one of the biggest rock shows in the history of music.

The concert, which aimed to raise money for the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief, also included a symbolic tearing down of a temporary wall. It included plenty of guest appearances, too. Three of them were by Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees: Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams and The Band. They performed to a massive worldwide audience. The show sold a quarter of a million tickets, gave free admission to 100,000 more, was aired on television in 65 different countries, produced a live album and came out on VHS. The days of the Berlin Wall were over. “The Wall” was back.

“GOODBYE BLUE SKY” PERFORMED BY JONI MITCHELL IN BERLIN

This Week in Music History: July 14 to 20

Posted on: July 15th, 2014 by Ripple Creative Strategy No Comments

By Adam Bunch

THE BIRTH OF SASKATCHEWAN’S FIRST COMMERCIAL RADIO STATION

During this week in 1922, a thunderstorm rolled across the Saskatchewan prairie. Rain pelted the streets of the capital. Lightning flashed overhead. But that didn’t stop Bert Hooper from doing his job. He was sitting in a studio on the fifth floor of the Leader Building in downtown Regina, upstairs from the offices of the Morning Leader newspaper. He’d been hired by the publisher to become one of the Canadian pioneers of a whole new kind of media: radio.

At that point, it had only been about 20 years since Guglielmo Marconi made his famous broadcast across the Atlantic Ocean. There were still only a few radio stations in all of Canada. The government had only just started granting commercial licenses a few months earlier and, for now, Hooper was the first and only employee of the new radio station in Regina. So it was all up to him. During that dark and stormy night in 1922, he launched the very first commercial radio broadcast in the history of Saskatchewan. CKCK was on the air.

A lot has happened in the 92 years since then, and there have been plenty of landmarks: the world’s first complete broadcast of a hockey game, the first live broadcast of a church service anywhere in the British Empire, and the groundbreaking years of the Second World War, when the management of the station was run entirely by women. Eventually, CKCK-FM became an all-music station, under a variety of different formats over the years: top 40 rock, adult contemporary, oldies…. And today, more than a century after Bert Hooper first put them on the air, CKCK is still going strong, now known as JackFM and bringing classic rock to the airwaves of Regina.

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THE DEATH OF TWO ISLANDERS

Back in the mid-1900s, Don Messer and His Islanders were one of the most popular bands in all of Canada. They played traditional music to Canadians all across the country, completing more than a dozen national tours, playing on CBC Radio three times a week and eventually ending up with their very own CBC TV show, “Don Messer’s Jubilee.”

The show spent more than a decade as one of the most beloved programs on Canadian television. Guests included Canadian folk and country music legends such as Stompin’ Tom Connors and Catherine McKinnon. In fact, “The Jubilee” was even more popular with Canadians than “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The only program that beat it in the ratings was “Hockey Night in Canada.” When the show was finally cancelled in 1969, there were public protests, petitions and even questions raised in the House of Commons.

This is a sad week in the history of the Islanders. It was on July 16, 1972, that one of the musicians who had been with the group since the very beginning – Charlie Chamberlain – passed away at the age of 61. Four years later, on the very same day, he was joined by another famous Islander, Marg Osburne. She was only 49.

CHARLIE CHAMBERLAIN AND MARG OSBURNE PERFORM “HIGHWAYS ARE HAPPY WAYS”

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